A Travellerspoint blog

April 2013

Chicago

Although traveling around the world is fun and exciting, the reality of it is that things can go wrong. When I arrived in Chicago is a perfect example of what can happen.... as once I got off the plane and waited for my backpack to arrive, it was nowhere to be seen! The woman who worked for the airline that I flew with was quite helpful, but when I left the airport with no bag, it was not a satisfying feeling. The best thing you can do - do not let it put a damper on your trip. I just had to let myself realise that I was in Chicago and the sun was shining and there could be a lot worse things going on. Luckily, I was traveling with two girls so that did help, although there is nothing more satisfying than your own clothes! (I did eventually get my bag back, two days later)

Chicago is a lovely city. It literally has something for everyone. The skyline is very beautiful too. We decided it would be a great idea to go along the majority of this, and what better way to do it than by bike, right? Wrong. Now, don't get me wrong here, we did enjoy the bike ride and when we first rented them we were all more than excited (it had been a while since any of us had got on a bike!) But after two hours or so we began to get tired, plus the fact that you are getting charged by the minute. We had looked up beforehand on the information where we could deposit our bikes, but could not for the life of us find this place, or any of the others it stated. We carried on for a little bit further and eventually decided to turn around and look again. We got over halfway back before we found somewhere. Thank god we had a map! It was still a great experience seeing it all by bike but the whole stressfulness of finding somewhere to return this did put a little damper on the trip.

I've been to a fair few aquariums in my time, but none of them come close to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. It really was fantastic; there was so much to see in there! The best bit by far had to be the jellyfish display they had. There were so many different ones, different shapes and sizes and colours. Some even had lights in them. It was so cool. We saw the shows as well which were okay, not great. But you can't beat watching dolphins jumping out of water. It really was a fun place and 100% worth a visit.

On the other hand, Lincoln Park Zoo was not such a good experience. Although I do feel bad for caged-up animals, I am generally a sucker for a zoo. But never have I been to one that has made me feel so depressed. The cages and enclosures are smaller than any other zoo's, and the animals are either moping around in a depressed manner, or nowhere to be seen at all! My heart really did go out to them. The zoo is actually free, so it does make me wonder if this is why. Either way, if you are against animal cruelty I would suggest giving this one a miss.

Millennium Park is a brilliant way to kill an afternoon. Being outside with the sun shining down on you is great, but also there is a lot to see. The best and most famous attraction has to be The Bean, also known as The Cloud Gate. It's such an unusual thing but is really cool. And you can see the majority of the city reflected in it! Another cool feature is The Crown Fountain. It features two giant block columns with video screens that display over 1000 different faces of Chicago residents. The face changes every five minutes and, with water spouting out of puckered lips, can keep you entertained for ages!

As with all major cities in America, there is a skyscraper just waiting to be climbed. In fact, in Chicago, there are two! The Sears tower and The John Hancock buildings are both worth a visit, offering spectacular views across the whole of Chicago. Some do prefer The John Hancock as opposed to the more famous Sears tower, mainly due to the reduced queues! At the top there is an observatory deck which is glass that you can step out on to, and it doesn't half scare you! Got to be done though.

Magnificent Mile is also worth a visit, if you can be strong-willed enough not to spend all your money there!

Posted by LaurenF3 02:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Boston

The best thing about Boston...the accent! My word I love it so much. It certainly makes being and walking around in Boston so much more entertaining.

One thing that must be done when in Boston is going to visit Fenway Par, home of the Boston Red Sox. We went to the park but didn't actually go inside, but as it was a game day the atmosphere surrounding it was electric. I can only imagine how buzzing it would be inside the park. There was hundreds of people around with stalls and shops everywhere. It really was so much fun.

When we were in Boston we did not have a lot of time so one thing that we did do was get on one of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. It was a great way to see as much as Boston as possible in such a little time. We went all around and got off at the pier where we had a beautiful lunch. We were all pretty hungover from the previous night's antics so the bus tour was the perfect way to not waste any time with as little effort as possible! We even got to see the famous [i]Cheers[i]bar!

We did venture on a night out in Boston. We went to a preppy American bar and it was so much fun. The Boston Celtics were playing when we first got there so the atmosphere was one again very enjoyable. And the night ended with us walking back to the hostel. On this journey back we had to walk past the Boston Fire Department, where we got talking to a few of the firemen outside. This then resulted in us spending a good two hours taking hundreds of photos of us in/on the fire engines, wearing the helmets and jackets, with the firemen and even with their mascot dog! It was so much fun and the guys were so accommodating. A fantastic end to a great night!

Another thing we did was go to see Harvard and MIT. I was expecting to be a lot more overwhelmed I must admit, but even so they were still fantastic buildings and if anyone was lucky enough to go to University there you would be so grateful. The buildings are very pretty and nice.

After the recent Boston Marathon Bombings my heart goes out to all those that we affected or injured, and my support for those who lost someone is endless. It is a horrendous thing that happened, and having one stood where the bombs went off makes it feel even closer to home for me.

One last point to leave you on if you are thinking of going to Boston - everybody (and I mean everybody) jogs. Some topless. And damn, do they look good. Enjoy :)

Posted by LaurenF3 03:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York

One big film set...

New York, New York... I am pretty sure everyone dreams of going there at some point in their lives. I think we all have an idea of what to expect and how good it will be, but the reality of it came nowhere close. It soared way past it! It was a real dream come true.

When we got there and checked into our cheap (ish) hostel we were more than pleasantly surprised. This was made even better when we got out our city map and realised we were within walking distance of Times Square, and from our location could access everything we wanted to do rather easily. Times Square was first on the list. Having seen it in many films and TV programmes and music videos you get an idea of what to expect. But standing in the middle of Times Square next to the iconic steps is a surreal experience. You actually have to give in to your urge to do the cheesy 'twirl around gazing upwards with your mouth open in an amazed fashion' move. The lights and signs and shops all together are breath taking. It is one of my most favorite places in the world (to date).

Now if you are on or near Times Square it is common sense that you must go and see a show on Broadway. Little piece of advise - don't book before you go! (Unless you aren't very flexible or are desperate to see a specific show. The best thing you can do is go down to Times Square on the day next to the steps and check out the boards there. They tell you what is available for that night and are always at a cheaper price. We went to see 'Mamma Mia' and I have to admit it did exceed my expectations. Well worth the watch.

My friends and I were in deliberation whether to visit and go up the Rockafella building or the Empire State. Then it was a case of do we go up in the day or at night. Finally, we decided on Empire State at nighttime. It was honestly such an amazing experience. To be so high up is ridiculous (I can't help but struggle with the idea of people building something so high - it really does baffle my mind!) It is such a surreal feeling to be looking down of skyscrapers. At seeing New York from above at night was awesome too.

There is obviously so much to do in New York it is hard to fit it all in in just a few days. One thing that you really should do it go and visit is Ground Zero. Ground Zero is the 9/11 memorial site. The way they have made it is beautiful and very touching. The bases of the two buildings are made into huge water features, both bottomless which I'm sure has many significant buildings. All around the edges are the victim's names. The best part for me was the fact that the new Freedom buildings (basically the new twin towers) are being built around them, and now there are four! In my eyes a nice little eff you.

Central park really is beautiful too. It is weird sitting in the middle of a park that is so green and pretty with big skyscrapers around you! Statue of Liberty (although for me slightly disappointing) is a must-do. If, like me, you are a Beatles fan, Strawberry Fields is cool (although not the original I know!) and also just outside of Strawberry Fields is the building where John Lennon lived and was assassinated. Another recommendation is the McDonald's on Times Square - it is like a club!!

You could honestly spend so much time in New York doing several different things but either way, whatever you choose to do you will not be dissapointed.

Posted by LaurenF3 11:49 Comments (0)

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